The world’s economic advance is increasingly spearheaded by the great cities of the world. Europe only has two of them, London and Paris (and there is Moscow). The USA has several, whilst rising Asia is pitting its traditionally successful city states against a new tide of fast growing cities in India, China and elsewhere.
If we look at the OECD list of richest regions in the world as measured by GDP per head, it is led by London (Inner west) at a mighty $152,116 a head. The District of Columbia around Washington USA comes second, at $131,343. Paris is the best of the continental cities, at a very successful $76,146 for the city as a whole. Edinburgh appears high up with $49,970, parts of the UK Home counties do well and Inner London east is there at $47,470.
Germany is not well represented. Its best performers are Hamburg and Munchen at just under $47,000.
It is another way of looking at the German/UK comparison we tackled yesterday. If the successful world model today is the large conurbation that attracts people of all types and languages to bring their skills, energy and money, the UK , US, and France have what it takes and Germany does not. To succeed a world city needs to encompass a population of around 10 million in the city proper and close surroundings. It needs to be very open to talent and money from outside. It needs to have premium properties available for foreigners to buy. It needs a great ambience, plenty of good high specification modern commercial space, and preferably some iconic older buildings and symbols of the city. It has to have great food, great drama and music, great art, and generally great entertainment.
Some object to this model of development. The gaps between the typical income in say central Paris, and poorer rural France can become very large. This is, however, no greater a gap than that between the eastern regions of united Germany and the richer south west. Mr Hollande’s attempts to curb the inequalities by imposing higher taxes on the successful has led to difficult court challenges and to a big exodus of well paid people, reminding him that if he wants France to keep one of the world’s great cities it has to understand the need to remain competitive.